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Discussion Starter #1
Environmentally speaking, the Prius & other hybrids aren't the only clean fish in the pond anymore. Check out http://driveclean.ca.gov for continuing updates.

1. A number of all gas vehicles are now rated at SULEV and PZEV (0 evaporative emissions). Even the humble, very popular Hyundai Elantra has a sulev/pzev option and only costs between $13000 to $18000.

Ford will even be introducing PZEV based all gas trucks within a year, as I recall. They already have PZEV Focus models selling in CA and the other 3 smarter states.

2. Within a few years, the U.S. will have retrofitted nation wide diesel to the excellent clean burning stuff. A number of diesel cars can get close to 50 miles/gallon now and the new clean buring diesel might just be the ticket.

3. Fuel cell vehicles are already being tested in LA. Within 6 - 9 years, don't be surprised to see consumer fuel cell driven vehicles. Maybe the hybrid technology is just a temporary buffer until this new technology hits.

That being said, I'm still very interested in the 2004 Prius. I'm not excited about the $6,200 battery replacement though. There is no guarantee that prices will drop that much. It might almost be tolerable if it drops to less than $1000 and old battery parts can be recycled? The price could only drop if there are a lot more hybrids out there, preferably sharing the same kind of battery pack to really influence prices. But what are the odds that various vehicle manufacturers will share battery pack data? How much will a hybrid resale value be with an old battery?

I'm not trying to rain on anybody's parade here. Just looking at the possibilities. :)
 

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PZEV is not "no emissions"--it's partial zero emissions. Which is certainly good and I appreciate your update of the vehicles currently falling into that class.

I'm not sure where you got the $6200 price for a replacement battery. $4000 is the number thrown around most often. Remember that the battery is guaranteed to 150K miles. That is a LOT of driving. The only reason you'd have to pay the cost of the replacement before then would be if you or someone else intentionally fiddled with it and broke it. But in normal use it's pretty unlikely you'd ever have to replace it. Also, I think that technology will advance, more of the 2nd generation prii will be sold and production of the batteries will therefore increase thereby decreasing the replacement costs.

Resale of a very high milage vehicle of any kind is a tough proceedure as wear and tear of all the parts occurs. I agree that I, for one, would be hesitant to pay very much for a high milage prius (lets say 130K miles) unless I knew that replacement in the next year or two would be affordable.

Remember, also, that you will most likely get well over 150K miles out of the battery, it doesn't just self-destruct at 150K. If it quits before then you get a brand new one with another 150K miles worth of driving in it, if it quits after it then you buy a new battery. You'd do the same thing with your transmission in your ICE car, or the engine, or any other high priced part--does that stop you from buying it? And how many manufacturers offer 150K mile warranty on ANY part of the car?

To me, I see the battery as a very worth while part of my risk. I'd anticipate that as Prius and other hybrid auto sales increase that 3rd party vendors will also come into the mix offering much discounted prices on replacement batteries. I just don't see it as a major concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Actually PZEV is partial zero emission out of the tail pipe and 0 evaporative emissions from the fuel line and tank, I believe.

I got the $6200 price from calling Toyota Service. Most likely, I was quoted top retail price?

Thanks for the feedback on batteries.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here's another excellent site that has all kinds of info, including the Cleaner Cars Buyer's Guide, which covers cars and trucks:

http://www.arb.ca.gov/

Currently, The 2004 Toyota Prius and Honda GX (alternate CNG fuel, not gas) are the only cars at the top of the list with a rating of AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle). In this category, the Prius and Honda have AT-PZEV ratings of 0.2. I believe that means it is 20% as clean as a pure electric ZEV vehicle? On the other hand, a ZEV vehicle should not be 100% pure since it has to be recharged with electricity from semi dirty electric generating companies? Whatever. At any rate, we are starting to make some headway on this little planet :D

cheers
 

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Reading this mail I'm perplexed to see such a wide variance in the items of information concernig reduced emission by various vehicles. None of what I am about to say may be correct. All I do is read and listen and we all know how far astray we can go doing only that. Years ago when I first became interested in hybrid vehicles I was told the Toyota and Honda vehicles were assigned the acronym ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) by the EPA. The hybrids of those two companies were the only ones qualifying for the rating. The following year the Toyota Hybrid gained over the Honda and was given SULEV, the added letter S for super. Now we have Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. Honda quickly caught up with their next models and the two now continue neck and neck in the SULEV designation. For that distinction, owners of those vehicles received a federal income tax deduction of $2000. for purchasing one of them. I got mine for the year 2002. I don't believe any of the other manufacturers now engaged in fierce competition with Toyota and Honda can lure buyers with that tax benefit by making up fancy emission reduction claims while using the same old technology. I know one thing for sure, an automobile with its engine running at all times can never produce less harmful emissions than an automobile whose engine frequently shuts down traveling the same distance, all other things being equal. I must also comment about the propulsion battery used in the Prius. When I purchased mine I was told that I should never expect trouble with the battery and it was guaranteed for 100,000 miles or 8 years whichever came first. I was also told that within the first five years the battery would be replaced if it failed, but the warranty would not be extended. After the fifth year, only bad cells would be replaced and not necessarily with new ones. This makes sense as a new cell with a longer life expectancy would only be wasted should the entire battery pack be discarded at the end of its life. For those of us who may continue using the Prius after many years of service past the warranty period, I'm sure there will be plenty of "after-market" suppliers who will help us get along just as they do today with other car parts. In my opinion we should enjoy the truly reduced emissions of our hybrids and smile at the others who claim their cars are just as good. Bill Whatshisname
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I generally agree with you. For example, if a special Hyundai Elantra can indeed be manufactured with a SULEV & PZEV rating, it would still use twice as much gas as a Prius. Therefore, even if both cars are similar in an emission rating, the full time gasoline based vehicle would still be twice as polluting as a Hybrid.

Some folks have suggested that when clean diesel is available in the U.S., then why not a diesel hybrid vehicle to improve mileage even more? I don't know much about diesel. What I've been told is that it takes a diesel engine a bit longer to start up and then it should stay idling during long wait periods since it takes a lot of fuel to get it going. On the other hand, a gas engine starts easily, and can be turned off and on without affecting fuel usage much. In fact if you have to wait for a minute or more for a train or whatever, might as well save gas and turn off the engine. Just a thought.
 

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Thanks for your comments PeteJ88. I enjoyed reading them. Unfortunately I can never agree with the hopes others have to clean up gasoline and diesel engines to where they even come close to the relative cleanliness of the hybrids. Diesels are a mess and never will be cleaned up to where they can be considered an equal to gasoline as a fuel. The diesel fuel itself is filthy and if cleaned up anymore than it is by refining, then it is no longer diesel fuel! I've owned two diesels (a Cadillac and an Olds) and believe me operating them properly was a job and a half. The one advantage I found was that they use only one quarter of the fuel required by gasoline engines when idling. That should explain why many truckers leave their engines running. As for passenger cars, they're usually not left running at idle so nothing is gained in mileage. My diesels used 12 quarts of oil in the crankcase compared to the six used by the car's gasoline counterparts and changes were absolutely required every 2000 miles. I often changed the oil myself and the drained oil looked like thick black lava. Whenever I got any of it on my hands it took days to wash away. It never came out of my clothing. Diesel fuel in large passenger cars was a flop in this country; you don't see them anymore. Back to the Prius. I'm not acquainted with the Honda so I can't speak about it. The common gasoline engines used by most manufacturers are way behind compared the small 75 hp gasoline engine used in the Prius. The Prius engine carries the name of the man who contributed most to its development. Unfortunately his name slips me at the moment but the technicians at Toyota know it well. The Prius engine has what is called variable valve timing. This is not to be confused with variable ignition timing which all cars have. This variable valve timing enables different valve action when the engine is in various stages of warm up. For that reason the Prius uses ordinary regular in what amounts to an engine with a comprssion ratio of thirteen to one. This is absolutely astounding for engine efficiency and most other cars with high compression ratios require higher octane premium fuels. Lots of it is sold today. Even without the electric motor assistance the Prius has, its engine would burn fuel less costly and cleaner. As for fuel cell cars. Forget them. Not this generation. Bill Whatshisname
 

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Toyota fuel-cell hybrid

I agree with you 100%, Bill, especially your statements about fuel cell prospects. FYI, here's an article that recently ran in my local newspaper:

"Air Products opens hydrogen fuel station"---Allentown "Morning Call,"
10/21/03:

"Air Products and Chemicals of Trexlertown said Monday it opened a new hydrogen fueling station at the University of California-Davis'
Institute of Transportation Studies.

"The new station will pump two types of fuel: hydrogen, and a blend of
hydrogen and compressed natural gas.

"A bus owned by the university runs on the blended fuel, according to
Air Products. The pure hydrogen will be used by Toyota fuel-cell
hybrid cars that are being researched in the area.

"Air Products has also built hydrogen fueling stations in Las Vegas and in West Sacramento, Calif., among other sites where hydrogen cars are being tested. The company is the country's biggest producer of hydrogen."

Trexlertown is located between Macungie and Wescosville in s.e.
Pennsylvania.
 
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